‘7 Rings’ & Other Hits That Have Sampled Previous Songs

Only a week ago, Ariana Grande broke the internet again when she released the audio and music video for her new song “7 Rings.”

Fans and those with general pop music knowledge took notice of the fact that Grande was taking a serious step away from her usual sound. For fans of her music, this transition into pop-rap/pop-trap seemed almost inevitable when we look at how she changed her approach on her latest album “Sweetener,” which was released just six months ago.

However, the gritty and harder beats were met with some resistance, not only because they didn’t like the genre shift, but some are criticizing Grande and accusing her of cultural appropriation.

The allegations of stealing black culture came almost immediately after the release when rapper Soulja Boy accused Grande of stealing his flow from his 2010 hit “Pretty Boy Swag." After his Twitter outburst and a reply from rapper Princess Nokia who felt Grande also ripped off one of her hits, people were quick to point out other moments in the video or song that resembled previously released work.

As an Ariana Grande fan, it’s hard to ignore these accusations when the songs are similar. My issue is that it’s not the first time she— or any artist, in general — has sampled a song.

In her past, Grande and her team used other songs or moments and sampled them in her work, but the response was never quite this volatile. In that same vein, she isn’t the only artist to use a soundbite, sample or similar flow from another song and rework it into their own. Once we hit the year 2000, I think originality in songs somewhat disappeared, music became more about reinventing what was already made instead of making something new.

Rather than criticizing her for what was probably not a conscious decision of having a rap flow similar to Soulja Boy, let's look to other famous songs that artists sampled in the past.

“ICY Girl” by Saweetie

This new age rap hit came out in 2018 and was used by many people in their Instagram captions. While the song brought Saweetie into mainstream prominence many forgot or failed to realize that almost the entire song is built on the same beat of the raunchy 2000 hit “My Neck, My Back” by Khia.

“Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B

Similar, to Saweetie, Cardi needed one hit to take her out of the mixtape circle and put her in the top entertainer stratosphere. While this hit gathered a mainstream audience, rap fans did take notice of the fact that the song used the flow and an amplified version of the beat of Kodak Black’s “No Flockin.” Cardi addressed the similarity, however, and said it was because she was a huge fan of Kodak and his song and wanted to put her own spin on the hit.

“Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled

When DJ Khaled announced this hit featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, the world went crazy. The Spanish-influenced R&B track was played in clubs endlessly around the world. Immediately upon release, many fans in the comment sections of YouTube noticed this song had an uncanny likeness to a previous hit by a famous guitarist and singer, Santana. Yes, “Wild Thoughts” is quite literally DJ Khaled adding some effects to “Maria Maria” by Santana. Thankfully, DJ Khaled and Santana spoke after the release, and Santana wished Khaled well and complimented the reinvigorated tune.

Obviously, there are countless other bops that are using the beats or verses of other famous songs. At this point, I think as long as artists are upfront and honest about clear sampling then all is fair in the music industry. However, there are certain chord progressions and phrasing that can’t be seen as truly sampling when some sounds have been placed in our minds subconsciously.

Do you think Ariana got caught sampling? Do you think sampling in music should be allowed? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @HerCampusUFL.